The New Math Test (Especially for Women)

by Linda McMullen


  1. If Samantha, a sensible young woman not prone to dramatizing her relationships on social media, finally gets up the courage to change her relationship status from ‘It’s Complicated’ to ‘Single’ on Facebook during prime time on a standard weekday, indicating that her relationship with Paul – at the one-year ‘make or break’ point – has imploded like Chevy Chase’s career, how many contacts will WhatsApp her before midnight on the pretense of comforting her, but actually to mine the rubble of the relationship for gossip-worthy gems? Among her genuine friends, how many will admit relief?

  3. Write equations to describe the a) number of hours Samantha will spend, and b) number of appearance-altering haircuts Samantha will consider, on Pinterest, before ultimately deciding to just dye her hair blue. Extra credit: Develop a model for assessing Samantha’s angst due to her failure to bleach her hair first, resulting in a hair tint that manages to appear both dirty and dated. Don’t forget to add the cost of a visit to a budget salon to minimize the damage.

  5. Project at what number of views Paul’s viral YouTube video on “How to Purge Your Ex-Girlfriend From Your Life” – which showcases him systematically ribboning Samantha’s old band t-shirts, trashing her toiletries, and launching exhaustive and largely untrue personal attacks against her character – will a) impinge on Samantha’s awareness; b) reach her conservative parents, who were unaware that the two of them were living together; c) affect her job prospects; and d) elicit commentary not protected by the First Amendment.

  7. Estimate Samantha’s prospects of signing a new lease in light of her irate parents’ refusal to lend her money for a deposit, and her need to apply for a new job after Paul started “showing up” at the old one. Assess how many times Samantha will need to lower her price range and her standards on rent.com. Show your work.

  9. Evaluate how Samantha can communicate enough on her LinkedIn profile to attract interest from local recruiters, but not enough to give anyone clues to her new location. Bonus points: approximate how many interview requests Samantha will lose after Paul uploads intimate pictures of her to Instagram.

  11. When Paul revenge-retweets his video in response to Samantha blocking him on Twitter, how many of Paul’s 1732 followers will suggest that rape is an appropriate punishment for a woman cutting a controlling ex-boyfriend out of her life? How many of them will escalate by doxxing her and broadcasting her painstakingly acquired new address?




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Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

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Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now CLOSED. The next reading period for standard submissions opens March 15, 2021. Topical Thursdays’ submissions are open year-round. Submit here.


12/31 • Sean Cho A.
01/04 • Linda McMullen
01/07 • Victoria Jean Ella
01/11 • Daniel Murphy
01/14 • Kendra Dobson
01/21 • James Harris
01/25 • Richard Kostelanetz
01/28 • Andrew Love
02/01 • Kristin Burcham